Social Culture: The Digital Key to Connecting with Audiences

Keeping in touch with social media can provide a wealth of information for planning your advertising campaigns.

After all, successful brands know that change is constant for cultural and societal tastes. This extends even to social media trends, and your customer base’s reactions to your advertising and branding efforts.

These responses can be unexpected, yet positive all the same, as with Coca-Cola’s Share-a-Coke Campaign.

They can be negative but reversible, as with the case of HoneyMaid Graham Crackers.

By staying in touch with what people talk about and share online, you can extract valuable insights to make your brand connect to them faster.

Staying in Touch with Social Culture

There are several ways to effectively leverage social media.

These include watching for trending topics shared by people online, monitoring when your user base is most active online so you can time your posts accordingly, and even revamping your website to give it a more updated and visually-appealing look.

Staying in touch with your brand’s and society’s cultural trends makes your offerings more relevant. This, in turn, lets you create better messages that customers will choose to engage with.

This was demonstrated when fashion designer Marc Ecko needed a campaign that reinforced his brand’s graffiti and street cred heritage.

The result was the “Still Free” viral video, which showed individuals tagging a plane that resembled Air Force One. The news reactions were so explosive that even the Pentagon had to deny claims that the president’s personal aircraft was vandalized.

If your customers don't give your brand a negative impression, their responses can still boost your reputation in a positive way, depending on how you handle the social media trends.

Granted that there are times when your brand's campaigns don't go as you would intend, the question still remains:

How can brands stay relevant to this so-called social culture?

Two Ways to Utilize Social Culture

1. Let Your Customers Evolve Your Campaign

Originally launched in 2011, Coca-Cola’s Share-a-Coke campaign continues well on to this day, with its latest installment in Vietnam involving Coke bottles with emojis instead of names.

This was originally made for its customers to customize and share Coke bottles with their friends’ names on it. However, social media posts of several users looking for their own names in local stores and supermarkets cropped up instead. This resulted in a notable 2.5% increase in sales for 2014, and several hilarious online posts.

Some even edited images of the cans with different names, poking good-natured humor at the brand.

While unexpected, the brand let the people run with it, which still resulted in their sales getting a notable increase.

2. Take Potentially Negative Backlash and Make It Positive

In HoneyMaid’s case, a TV ad following their rebranding featured interracial and same-sex families, as well as single parents, all enjoying HoneyMaid products, as well as a voiceover that said: “No matter how things change, what makes us wholesome never will.”

While this new message did spark several negative comments on social media, Droga5, the brand’s ad agency, expected this.

HoneyMaid graham crackers turned to two independent artists to print out the negative online comments and turn them into a paper sculpture that read “Love”.

In addition to this, the positive comments (which vastly outnumbered the bad ones) were printed and placed alongside the paper structure. This reinforced the brand’s own belief of staying wholesome, and kept itself relevant with the other types of family that love each other as much as traditional ones do.

They responded by turning the negativity into a positive message for those who supported the advertisement’s new direction.

All this was possible because the ones behind the campaigns kept a watchful eye on how people viewed those brands.

Once they knew that, it was a simple matter of adapting to their reactions.

The Lesson: Always Keep an Ear (and an Eye) to the Web

Merely acknowledging that change is constant isn't enough. Working with the culture is the key to letting people run with your campaign ideas and using them to your advantage, as with Coca-Cola.

You can even turn negative messages into something positive, as with the case of HoneyMaid where negative comments were turned into a message that advocated love.

By staying in touch with social culture, you get more chances to stay relevant to your customers. At the same time, you also honor your brand’s own beliefs, as with Marc Ecko’s campaign.

All this depends on how well you listen, so keep your ears open, and keep your eyes on your newsfeed.

About author:
Rick Enrico is the CEO and Founder of SlideGenius, Inc. He regularly publishes expert presentation tips on the SlideGenius blog. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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